Wednesday, October 29, 2008

3 Months Later...

It’s easy to write about the success of our summer camps- right after they have all taken place. There are always wonderful stories to share, happy children to show and testimonies to give about how God was at work.

But what happens to these kids later? How do these moments in the summer influence their future lives? How do these seeds of hope continue to grow? Do we stay in touch with them? Do we see them again? Do their lives really change? As you can see…a lot of questions remain.

Last weekend I went with 8 of our volunteers from summer, back to one of the two orphanages to pay the kids a visit and bring some encouragement (along with bags full of candy and some warm socks!) It was so great to see the kids—even if only for a couple hours.

I was especially excited to see Igor, one of the older boys who I hadn't gotten to know pretty well when we brought him to the US last year, and then even better through the summer camp. I brought him a book I thought he might like and we talked for awhile. As Igor reminisced about the camp he shared something that I thought was cool. He said that after the kids were at our camp they went on to another camp, and while they were there the staff didn't even learn their names, plan activities or teach them things. He said he enjoyed the camp we put on so much because it was obvious that we cared. Praise Jesus for this! Sometimes you wonder if the work really does make a difference, if the kids even notice…and then they go and have a total opposite experience, and you realize that yes, Jesus is working through us and the kids can feel the difference.
Another boy, Sasha, also from the same orphanage, has since gone on to a local trade. He heard about our visit and was really sad that he missed seeing all his “Kiev friends”—but he told my friend Yulia on the phone that he is still reading the Bible that one of the leaders gave him and that he is praying for us! Wow—he is praying for us!! He asked us to pray for him as well—a good reminder to be on my knees for these kids—if they think to pray for our team in Kiev, how can I not be reminded to pray for them?

So the answer to the above questions is in many ways yes. I can’t say that every child changes, or that every child sticks with the decisions he/she made. But I saw with my own eyes that seeds are growing, and kids are being encouraged and for that God deserves all the glory!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

UK Blitz

A couple weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting up with my dear friend Becky and her friend Heather in England. After a quick day in London we headed up to Edinburgh Scotland and stayed with some friends of friends (gotta love connections) for 2 nights. Scotland is simply charming and we had so much fun exploring the streets, castle and cafes. Here are a few highlights.

Becky, Heather and I in the classic phone booths

The tower bridge at night

In trifalgar square with the Lion

A beautiful day in Edinburgh

On the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

You never know when you will find a collection of bagpipe players in kilts!
He said something nice...

The Castle at night

We were excited to spot Mel Gibson!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What makes a man rich?

For the past week I have been being "mama" to my 5 cousins here in Kiev. The real mama and papa were in the US so I got to be the fill in for a week. This is not a first--I think I'm becoming a pro actually. It can be a challenge at times being a single mom to 5 but it is always a lot of fun too--because they are GREAT kids and well...I just love them a lot!
The other morning, little John shared something at breakfast that I think was quite profound for a 5 year-old. Andre, who just turned 9 was talking about different people he knows that are "rich" and all the cool things they have, and then he stopped and said, "Karen, are we rich?"
I went in to a little explanation about how we are indeed rich because we have so many things, and a roof over our heads and food three times a day--and well so much of the world does not (really deep I know). And then he asked, "well what makes a man rich?" And before I could come up with an even more profound answer, little John pipes in and answers, "you're rich if you trust in God!"

Wow! Talk about a good reality check I was given from a 5-year-old! Sometimes it takes the little one's to put it all back in perspective. Thanks John. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Trust. This is my word of the moment. The word I keep having to remind myself of. Trusting the Lord and where He is leading...even when I don't fully understand.
A year ago I was on a silent retreat with people from church and the Lord impressed upon my heart Psalm 37 over that weekend and it brought me much encouragement for where I was at. Well it seems to be that exactly a year later that Psalm is bringing truth to me again and God is taking me to a new place of letting go and trusting Him- inspite of all my doubts and fears.
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; TRUST in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him...(Psalm 37:3-7)

About a week and a half ago I had to make a decision that involved a lot of trust. Trust in the Lord and where He is leading, Trust in the Holy Spirit's guidance, and trusting a lack of peace that I have had inside for quite some time. I ended my 6 month relationship with my dear Max. It's weird to even be writing about this in a public forum sort of way, but at the same time it is where I'm at right now, and I guess it is good to be able to let people in- even as I process all my random thoughts. Letting go of someone you deeply care about and have spent so much time with is a very hard process...even when you sense it is where the Lord is leading. I have to say that in the moments after our difficult conversation I wanted to take my words back and hold on to the familiar-- afraid of the unknown future and of being alone again. But then there was that word again...TRUST. It was a word that kept coming up even in the days leading up to my conversation with Max. Friends encouraging me that I have to keep my eyes on Jesus and trust that He has the bigger picture in his hands. In those moments of doubt that is all I can cling to-- trusting Jesus..trusting that He will continue to guide my feet...and Max's too...and that my doubting and worrying will do no good. Instead I just have to let go...and TRUST Him. And really, it's not only a daily decision, but a moment by moment decision.
I don't know where you are at in this season of your life and if you are found in the midst of a mountain peak or a darker valley...but I pray you too can hear the whisper of his voice, however quiet it may be...saying "Trust me."
May we encourage one another when our vision becomes blurred.